Thursday, June 21, 2012
Stone's Ruination's 10th Anniversary IPA
Stone Brewing's Ruination double IPA is a near-perfect blend of bitter, citrus-flavored hops and just the right amount of sweet malts, which combine for a complex, outstanding beer. Ruination was a pioneer double IPA, and is still one of the best double IPAs brewed. It takes confidence, or dare I say arrogance, to brew a beer to commemorate such a great beer. It would have been easier for Stone Brewing just to throw a celebratory party or two, or have a mini-festival to commemorate ten years of Ruination. But no, Stone chose the risky option and decided to brew a tribute ale that had to at least match the excellence of Ruination, because anything less would have been an embarrassment. Stone took a leap with its Ruination 10th Anniversary IPA, and succeeded in a big, big way.
Stone Brewing's 10th Anniversary Ruination IPA is brilliant; one of the best beers I have had in a long time. Its floral aroma hit me as soon as I popped the top on the 22 oz bomber. It poured a clear, deep copper color with a big white foam. 10th is one of the hoppiest beers I can remember tasting - a hop head's Nirvana. I tried to decide whether the hop flavor leaned more towards pine or citrus, but couldn't make a clear distinction, and after a few sips I didn't care. 10th is just one massively hopped beer. But extreme hoppiness alone doesn't make this beer standout. It is balanced by a sweet, strong malt profile, which matches and complements the hop bitterness, gives the beer a delicious upfront flavor, and leads to a long, satisfying finish. 10th is not cloying at all, which is not only incredible for a double IPA this big, but is a credit to the brewer's skill. 10th's abv is a whopping 10.8%, but you wouldn't know it except for a small burn in the finish.
Drinking this beer immediately put me in a good mood. I didn't develop taste bud fatigue or become overwhelmed by the beer's strength, which has been known to happen with double IPAs north of 10% abv. It was enjoyable all the way through, and the bottle ended way too soon.
Brewers, no matter their experience, should grab and drink a few bottles of Ruination and Ruination 10th Anniversary IPA, to study and learn from them (or if they already make a good double IPA, at least have a fun night). The double IPA has become a required beer for most breweries, and unfortunately, far too many double IPAs are marginal or worse, undrinkable. To make a great, or even just a decent double IPA, takes more than just a heavy dose of hops and high alcohol, it needs attention to the malt, because if the hops aren't balanced with a proper dose of malts, the result will be too bitter, too sickly sweet, too alcoholic, or unpleasant combinations of booze and hops or booze and sweetness.
It appears unlikely Stone will brew this Ruination 10th Anniversary IPA again, based on tweets I've read from Stone, so get this ephemeral ale soon. Drink it, don't save it.